Ireland's sky-high tax rates are harming enterprise
According to reports in the media in recent weeks, the Government is examining the income tax rates and the Universal Social Charge (USC) in advance of Budget 2015. However, it appears that the hinted changes (if any) will be too modest and uncourageous to make any difference to Ireland's economy or to economic confidence.
The effective marginal rate of income tax in Ireland (including 7pc for USC and 4pc for employee PRSI) is 52pc for individuals; it is 55pc (thanks to an additional 3pc USC "levy") if one has the audacity to be self-employed as a result of setting up your own business. These are rates of taxation that are unquestionably anti-enterprise and confiscatory. We should contrast these Irish rates with the 45pc top rate of income tax currently in place in Britain.
What needs to happen is that Ireland must get a Budget this October that supports growth. Everything in the Budget must support indigenous enterprise. To this end, the marginal rates of taxation must be reduced. Cutting the top rates of tax (not merely changing the point at which people enter tax bands, but actually reducing the top rates) will encourage enterprise and employment because it will allow businesses to retain more of the money that they earn. This means that people can invest in their businesses by hiring more staff and purchasing new equipment, or create new businesses.
It would also, crucially, help greatly to encourage talented people to remain in Ireland, instead of emigrating. Merely fiddling with the tax bands - which is a political cop-out, devoid of courage - would do little to change the true perception in Ireland today, that we are living in a very high-tax country which is a cold house for indigenous enterprise.
For the national finances to be balanced, Ireland needs a combination of public-spending control and real economic growth. It is now time to work on the growth by cutting the marginal rates of tax.
John B Reid, Monkstown, Co Dublin
Keeping the seasons Irish
On the RTE 1 'Nine O'Clock News' on Monday, September 1, Mr Gerry Murphy, Met Office forecaster, announced that, "In Ireland, autumn is September, October and November". As bald as that.
The Irish Met Office has a web page entitled 'Fun Facts for Young Primary Students', which starts, "Spring begins on the first of March and continues until the end of May".
This is all bureaucratic propaganda, because it is not true. In Ireland, as Patrick Dinneen says in his dictionary, "Earrach, the spring, begins on La Fheile Bhride, February 1, and ends on the day before La Bealtaine, May 1". The months of autumn are August, September (or Mean Fomhair, the middle of autumn) and October (or Deireadh Fomhair, the end of autumn).
This is a beautiful division of the year, with ceremonies attached to the opening days of each season, and each season balanced perfectly around a significant centre: spring equinox, mid-summer, autumn equinox and mid-winter.
We should not try to change an essential part of our culture, a part that connects us in the Ireland of today, through an unbroken folk tradition, with our Gaelic, pre-Norman past. If the Met Office needs to talk to the British Met Office in official terms, ones that require the meteorological year to be different from Ireland's traditional calendar, let them do that, but leave us our spiritual and historical cultural division.
Michael Brennan, Address with Editor
Scottish poll and Burns's ghost
I am amazed that the people in Scotland do not realise how fortunate they are. We in Ireland achieved independence at a very high price: the wasteful and tragic shedding of blood.
On referendum day, every Scot can win independence at the stroke of a pen.
J Anthony Gaughan, Blackrock, Co Dublin
Despite all the talking leading up to the Scottish Referendum, I hear a deafening silence. Is the past taboo, no longer relevant for Scotland's future? Am I out of line for even mentioning it? Do Wallace, Bruce and Burns not stir any Scottish hearts any more?
Sean McElgunn, Belcoo, Co Fermanagh
GAA replay bonanza
With the expected bonanza from the replay of the hurling final, perhaps the GAA should now sing the song 'Not Counting You', by Garth Brooks to the Croke Park protesters?
Mick Hannon, Clones, Co Monaghan
Goodwill gesture from Ryanair
Given that Ryanair is regularly the target of widespread criticism on various issues, I consider it worthwhile to publicly record my recent experience in dealing with the company. Some months ago, I booked a return flight to Spain for my husband and myself costing €320. Subsequently, my husband was diagnosed with a serious illness, and we had to abandon our holiday plans.
I advised Ryanair of our situation and when I furnished it with medical confirmation of our story, I received a very sympathetic message and assurance that our money would be reimbursed in full. It was promptly lodged to our account. In times of stress, such goodwill gestures provide a necessary and much-needed morale boost.
Mary Aherne Ryan, Cappamore, Co Limerick
Junior Cert results night
Surely, it's time to switch the day that teenagers receive their Junior Certificate results? Instead of students receiving them on Wednesday, results should be given out on a Friday.
Thus, students could go out on Friday night and not miss any school the following day. Thousands of students will have missed school after venturing out. It doesn't make any sense, and neither pupils nor parents nor teachers benefit.
Chris Callaghan, Ramelton, Co Donegal
We're not all farmers
We now have a Farming Commissioner, a Farming Minister, and a Taoiseach leading the Party of the Big Farmer in Government. What about the rest of us? That is to say, the people who pay for it?
Harry Mulhern, Millbrook Road, Dublin
Hospital hygiene: name names
As a member of the public and a HSE employee, I am fed up hearing about reports in the newspapers and other media outlets from state bodies such as the HIQA about non-compliance by some members of staff in hospitals regarding hand hygiene.
Why do these auditors not confront the individual regarding their poor hand hygiene practice when the non-compliance is observed and note the particular staff member's name, profession and department within the hospital?
It is very easy to submit a report about these alleged non-compliances without names - start naming the individuals and the department in which they are employed in the audit reports using a separate appendix attached to the report, which would be exempt from FOI/public information, and submit this list to the relevant hospital manager.
Following this, the individuals should then be required to successfully complete hand-hygiene training within a tight time constraint, ie 48 hours, and submit a certification for hygiene training to the HIQA or the audit team.
On a second or subsequent non-compliance by the same person, they should be disciplined.
Dermot Duke, Drogheda, Co Louth